Conventional wisdom tells us to always try a mattress at the store. The problem is that so many mattress stores have developed sophisticated gimmicks and choreographed routines to manipulate customers who walk in their doors.
Before you plan a visit to a mattress store, reading this could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and countless sleepless nights.
#10 Floor Models – It's easy to think you could save the most buying a model right off the showroom floor. But some stores will sell a "floor model" to a customer in the morning, replace it, and sell another "floor model" to a different customer in the afternoon.
#9 Tempting Offers – If it sounds too good to be true, it is. When an ad says you can get any size for the same price, be very skeptical. Car dealers don't sell sedans for the same price as subcompacts, and mattress stores don't either. Some stores will say anything in their ads to get you to come in, where you'll quickly discover the tempting offers have more strings attached than a basketball hoop.
#8 Low-Price Guarantees – Manufacturers give every store a different name for the same mattress. It's weird but true. It's done to confuse shoppers and makes it impossible to compare prices from store to store. And it becomes the basis for low-price claims. Just remember that stores guaranteeing the lowest price are also guaranteeing the HIGHEST price, since it's not available anywhere else under that name at any price!
#7 Hard Feelings – Nationwide, about 10%-20% of people prefer firm mattresses. The rest prefer a softer (plush) or pillowtop surface. Mattress stores know this, and often advertise their biggest discounts on firm models, knowing most people don't want them. Shoppers coming in response to the advertised discounts have to pay more for one they'll like.
#6 "Free" Can Really Cost You – The commercials offer "Free" frames, box springs, and/or delivery. Not a chance. The free frames are made with flimsy, lightweight materials, often not strong enough to hold your mattress. The promotional box springs usually aren't the ones that belong in the set, they won't last and they will void the product warranty. Free delivery might mean just to the curb; it will cost extra to bring it in. Truck drivers don't work for free.
#5 Financing – In recent years, mattress advertising has become dominated by finance offers. Sleep Now and Pay Later!! Just like credit card companies, some stores make more money from interest and penalties on their financing plans than they do from merchandise sales. Customers who slip on a single payment are on the hook retroactively to the date of purchase, at APR rates pushing 30%.
#4 New and Used – It may be a crime to remove the tags from your mattress, but few states have laws stopping stores from re-selling used mattresses as new. With such expensive returns or exchanges, it's tempting for stores to clean, re-bag, and put them back into "new" inventory.
#3 Feeling Misled – The primary reason most shoppers go to the store is to feel the exact product they're getting. But often, the mattress that's delivered (weeks later) doesn't feel the same. The standard store answer is the mattresses in the showroom have already been "broken in" by other shoppers, begging the question of why they put such an emphasis on trying them at the store in the first place.
#2 Markup and Markdown – Have you ever wondered how mattress stores can afford to run so many "half-price sales"? They can't. If you double the price, then offer "50% Off," that's not really a deal at all. It's just a big deception to create the appearance of savings. Very few states have laws restricting the use of sale terms, even when it's never been sold at the "regular" price.
#1 Do Your Research – Savvy shoppers investigate products and read reviews online before buying. But few investigate the store. Some store chains have deplorable records for customer complaints, and even fraud. Check the Better Business Bureau online at bbb.org (choose the "Phone, URL, Email" tab to quickly find the headquarters).
There You Go .
So now you know some of the ways that mattress chains, department stores, and furniture showrooms rip off their customers. (Sadly, there are plenty more that don't make the top 10.)